March 6, 2014

Employers rely on front-line management and supervisors to deal on a one-to-one basis with employees. Occasionally, however, these interactions can go “off the rails” – in some cases, because of harassment, and in other cases, because of personality issues. How can one distinguish between aggressive management and bullying? What happens when a front-line manager does engage in bullying behaviour? In this session a panel of experts will address these and other concerns.

  • Bullying or not? How can you distinguish between bullying on one hand, and an aggressive management style, a difficult personality or simple insensitivity on the other? What type of managerial behaviour is best at motivating employees in a respectful manner? What different factors come into play when dealing with conflict between an employee and supervisor, as opposed to conflict between two employees? Can a work assignment by managers constitute harassment? When does a workplace investigation cross the line and become personal harassment?
  • Legislative prohibitions on bullying and harassment: What steps have jurisdictions across Canada taken to legislate protections against workplace bullying? What legislative provisions in Alberta currently address workplace harassment and bullying? What changes have recently been made to B.C. workers’ compensation legislation to address the psychological injuries caused by harassment and bullying? How do the amendments to Saskatchewan’s Occupational Health and Safety Act address bullying in the workplace? What provisions in Manitoba’s Workplace Health and Safety Regulation address harassment? How does to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act define bullying and harassment?
  • Reporting and responding to bullying: What should an employer do to ensure that managers don’t cross the line from management to bullying? What should employees do if they feel their manager has crossed the line? When can an employee refuse to work on the basis of harassment concerns? How should the union respond? Should the union conduct its own independent investigation into the complaints? How should the employer and the union approach allegations against a supervisor who is in the same bargaining unit as the complainant? What obligations does senior management have to investigate complaints about bullying bosses? Can the employer be held liable if it ignores the supervisor’s bullying? What can be done if the supervisor has a disability that is contributing to the behaviour? What measures can be adopted to deal with situations where an employee takes offence to direction that is managerial but does not amount to bullying?
  • Respectful workplaces: What is the best approach to follow in encouraging positive workplace behaviour? How can employers and unions work together to recognize and prevent the most common sources of bullying? How should policies set out clear expectations for acceptable conduct and processes to follow when problems arise? What are some examples of “best practices” in promoting respectful workplaces?
  • Remedies: What options do unionized and non-unionized employees have if they are being bullied or have been forced to leave the workplace because of harassment? Should the employee seek redress under occupational health and safety law, workers’ compensation law or in the courts? What remedies have different provinces established under legislation for workplace bullying? What remedies have arbitrators awarded?